Attorneys Debate Email Lana Sutton Sent To City Employees On Sexual Harassment Issue

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

In a hearing in front of Federal Magistrate Bill Carter, Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman made a motion to extend discovery in light of an email sent out by Lana Sutton to many city employees, asking if anyone knew or saw anything pertaining to her sexual harassment. He said he wanted the names of everyone who received the email.

He also said in the lawsuit by Ms. Sutton against the city of Chattanooga that the city maintains that the plaintiff's claims are false.

He said, "We deny that Ms. Sutton was sexually harassed by Paul Page or anyone in the city."

According to Ms. Sutton, a former part time fitness instructor for the city, management employee Paul Page began making inappropriate comments to her shortly after she was hired.

She said he told her she was "not dressing sexy enough," and he wanted to put a bed in the back room so they could "relax together." She also said he mentioned to her that if she did special favors for him, she could have a pay raise.

When she told her supervisor, she said she was told that Mr. Page was a friend of the mayor at the time, Ron Littlefield, and that there was nothing they could do.

During the Wednesday afternoon hearing, Attorneys Harry and Eric Burnette, representing Ms. Sutton, also discussed the email. They agreed that some people received the email who were not supposed to be in contact with Ms. Sutton.

Attorney Harry Burnette said he never dreamed she would send an email of that nature, but added, "I don't know why we should give the names of the people who gave my client positive responses." He said since many of these people were current city employees, it would put them in a risky position with their job.

He said they would share anything else that was needed, but said the city had also not been forthcoming. He said Ms. Sutton had even filed a freedom of information request.

Attorney Reisman said he knew over 400 emails were sent out. He gave an example, saying if only four or five people replied, then theoretically, at least 395 people were saying nothing happened or that they did not see anything.

Attorney Harry Burnette also pointed out that this was not the first or only lawsuit against Paul Page, who has since resigned. He said it made sense that few people would have seen anything, saying, "This guy didn't sexually harass her in front of a thousand people."

He continued, "Her testimony has always been that the harassment was done in such a way that witnesses wouldn't be there."

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